Answers to frequently asked questions about the Shennong Chinese Herb Learning course

online chinese medicine classes

(Update 2014 : The course is currently on hiatus)

I’m excited to say that the Shennong course is enrolling (almost 1/4 of the Founding Member spots are filled up already!) and we have an incredible community of students building.  Once all this enrollment business is done, I will get back to reposting the best of Chinese Medicine Central’s old blog content as well as adding new podcasts, some video & a couple of blog posts that have been in the works for several weeks.

Many people have had questions about the course, and so I’ve updated the sign-up page to reflect my most clarified understanding.  But, to make things simpler for people, I am listing the answers to those questions here in question-answer format.  You might find a question you had answered here – so look through.

Above all, get your registration done sooner rather than later – I’m only accepting 50 people into this Founding Member class and I’ve been frankly surprised at how fast those spots are going.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the course?  What’s the pace?  What if I’m busy – will I have time to do it?

With modules and integration weeks included, the course runs 10 weeks. However, the course is ultimately self-paced. Modules are released on a given day, but will be available on the site far beyond the 10 week interval AND crucially all content is available for download to your computer. This includes the recordings of the mentorship calls, all worksheets and text documents, all video and audio, and so on. Thus, even if some major life event comes up, you can run through the course at your own pace at any time.

Two time-based parts of the course are the forums and the mentorship calls. The forums will be another permanent resource for you – even when a new iteration of the class beings – Founding Members will have access and be able to interact with the new students as well as your old friends from the course.

The mentorship calls, as I said, will be recorded so you can hear all the questions and answers later. You can also submit questions via email to be answered live on the call.

Will we be studying… “X disease” “X herb” “X formula” (and similar questions)

In the course of my teaching, I inevitably talk about various herbs, formulas, treatment profiles and case studies. However, this first course is more about building a solid foundation for an entirely engaged, classically informed, lifelong relationship with herbs. Thus, I won’t be speaking extensively about any particular disease, herb or formula family in any intentional way.

Still, during mentorship calls and on the forums, you can ask specific questions about topics of interest to you. I will give more details to members about what types of questions will be fielded on the mentorship calls.

What materials are required for the course?  Will there be required texts?

After registration, you receive a materials list with “required” and recommended resources both listed. Long story short, whatever you don’t already have you can probably get on various websites dedicated to Chinese medicine. The only exception is dried Chinese herbs. Anyone with a grocery store with a bulk section should be able to acquire some simple Chinese herbs without trouble. I will also be delivering information about how to find them online, and will mentor individual students who are having trouble locating materials.

Regardless, there shouldn’t be hugely significant materials costs. You could probably get away with spending less than $20 total for all the materials in the course. If you went crazy, you could spend more than $300!

What’s the flow of the course?  What are the integration weeks?

Each element listed on the sales page represents one week, including the modules and the integration weeks. Thus, the 10 week timeframe (6 modules and 4 integration weeks). The first two modules are foundational, and will get you ready for the rest of the material in the course. After that point, there is an integration week where folks can continue to gather their materials, process the foundational information, ask questions in the forums and on the mentorship call, and generally get excited to start engaging with the herbs on a sensory level. That’s what integration weeks are for – just a way to slow down, take stock of what you’ve learned, and figure out if you’ve got any questions.

The remaining modules will take you step-by-step through the sensory part of the relational model, expanding on various theories & practices, and helping you grow more deeply connected to these plants that are the most incredible medicine on the planet. Integration weeks are dispersed throughout, particularly in places where I have learned students need more time.

During the flow of the class, students will be creating a project by doing individual exercises, and at the end of that time will have a close, personal relationship with a particular Chinese herb as well as having internalized a method for engaging with any medicinal substance they choose in the future. They will also be perfectly poised to move into the next, more symbolism and text-focused, part of the Shennong method in the second stage of the course (coming in 2012).

Do I have to be present for the modules at a particular time?  I live in a different time zone and am worried I won’t be able to attend!

As I said above, the course is self-paced, so being in a different time zone should not be a problem. I will be offering various times for mentorship calls so that everyone has a chance to be “live” on the line to ask their questions and interact.

Is the course taught from a particular standpoint?  Do you bash other ways of practice than your own?

I believe very strongly in the power of the classics of Chinese medicine as well as the ultimate classic – nature. I was educated by scholars who have pretty strong standpoints. However, I am an integrator and mediator by nature. While I sometimes let my excitement get ahead of me and make stronger statements than I would have otherwise, I deeply respect all ways of entering into this medicine, and seek to learn from everyone I meet.

I believe the classical texts of Chinese medicine are the ultimate arbiter, the one reference which we can all agree is foundational. If others choose to go beyond the classics, innovating to create new combinations of herbs, that is certainly their prerogative, and I do not begrudge them that. We can have healthy and lively conversations about these different viewpoints in the forums and on the mentorship calls – but all those conversations will be held with respect, enthusiasm for healing, and the goal of building a global community of colleagues.

Are there prerequisites?  What if I haven’t taken any formal herbs courses, yet, or don’t plan to?

There are no official prerequisites for this course.

I believe anyone can benefit from the Shennong Relational Herb Learning method if they are passionate about growing a deep, lifelong relationship to herbs. In some ways, the ideal student would be taking this class before their herbs education so they can benefit most from their medical school education. However, any stage in a program of study is fine, and the more herb names you know, the less you will have to look up in the course of my lecturing.

For people who have a strong interest in herbalism, but are not planning formal education, this course is an ideal way to engage with a very deep current of Chinese medicine. While you will find many of the words and concepts foreign (they are!) with a little work you will have a very solid understanding that will serve you well moving forward.

How can I get Chinese herbs to work with during the class?

I will be helping students to acquire herbs for personal research use. I know that some students live in countries where acquisition of herbs is more challenging. We will do our utmost to find plants with which you can work. If you have very specific concerns that pertain to your situation, please contact me.


About Eric Grey

Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.

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